I suppose it’s hard to imagine how a fast-spreading disease that has killed tens of thousands of Americans could have any positive attributes. People are grieving, sacred, and the rate of anxiety is at an all time high. No one has been unaffected by COVID. The question is, can we see the bright side yet? Is there a good side to the upheaval it’s caused? Can we find contentment in the midst of where we are?
I’ve been asked more than a dozen times to share on the topic of how to handle stress during this time, and I keep coming back to a few basics, one of which includes choosing to focus on what we CAN control. I can’t control a lot in this, but I can control what I choose to focus on. More than ever, I’ve chosen to focus on some of the good that is shining through the challenges.
On a personal level, we’ve focused on service to others, gratitude for simple things, and spending quality time outdoors, interestingly, all essential to positive mental health and building resilience for future challenges. It has been fun to write on our “gratitude” board each night, closing the day with intentional thoughts of what IS going well, versus the disappointments of what we’ve missed and what’s been canceled.
On a family level, I see changes, too. As I walk through my neighborhood, I see kids learning how to ride bikes and kids playing in their yards instead of with screens. I smile at neighbors finding safe and creative ways to gather and share laughter, some meeting each other for the first time ever. And as I scroll through social media posts, I notice more of us appreciating the beauty God rolls out for us with the change of seasons.
On a community level, people are becoming more aware of mental health and the importance of self-care. Instead of viewing mental health issues as something that happens to other people, we’re recognizing that our friends, our families, and even ourselves can be affected. May has long been designated as Mental Health Awareness Month, a time when we remember that everyone faces challenges that can impact our mental health, and this past month we were welcomed more freely into conversations with churches, businesses, and even schools.
At the onset of COVID our team at Care to Change gathered to determined how we would respond in the wake of this pandemic, and together we agreed to remain a voice of calm, to take bold steps in reaching out to those in need, to remain compassionate to those people who are hurting long after quarantines end and there is business as usual, and we resolved to stay community focused. We’ve called them the 4 C’s to resilience in COVID. Calm. Courage. Compassion. Community.
Our team is still here, helping people face their challenges and educating the community. We adapted quickly to the realities of social distancing, by shifting counseling sessions to video and other means, offering ZOOM workshops to educate as many people as possible, and adding rich resources to our website that we update frequently. We also launched our you-tube, so that you have video resources available at any time of the day or night.
Yes, the effects of COVID-19 may be clouding our lives, but there are definitely silver linings to help us build resiliency, share hope, strengthen one another, and provide the support each of us may need along the way. Please let us know what we can do help you.
April Bordeau is the Director of Care to Change. A licensed clinical social worker, she has focused on helping children and families overcome challenges in their lives for over two decades.